Pay TV company needs more subscribers

BERLIN — Financially strapped Sky Deutschland is branching out its distribution avenues and looking to partner with local cablers in an effort to attract more customers.

Sky has inked its first joint distribution deal with local Cologne cable company NetCologne, which will offer a Sky subscription along with its new triple-play bundle that also includes high-speed Internet and flat-rate telephone service.

As part of the agreement, announced Tuesday, NetCologne will also become the first German cable company to carry Sky’s new HD channels, which will be available as part of the subscription deal.

The pact looks likely to benefit both Sky, which has some 2.4 million subscribers, and NetCologne, which serves 200,000 customers in the Cologne area.

Sky has faced a long uphill battle to attract subscribers in Germany, where viewers have more than 30 free TV channels at their disposal and are already saddled with pubcaster license fees of nearly $30 a month, making them averse to forking over yet more coin for pay TV.

But including high-speed Internet and flat-rate telephone services certainly makes things more attractive for consumers eager to bolt the one-time monopoly of German telco giant Deutsche Telekom.

“We want to further intensify cooperation with cable operators with regards to carrying our great range of channels,” said Wolfram Winter, Sky’s senior VP of distribution development. “The partnership with NetCologne serves as a model for distribution and marketing agreements that we would like to make with other cable providers. The goal is to market the exclusive Sky package as part of an offer that includes the products of cable operators and in doing so fulfill the wish of many cable customers for HD channels.”

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